Cushing's disease presenting with avascular necrosis of the hip: an orthopedic emergency

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Sep;84(9):3010-2. doi: 10.1210/jcem.84.9.5992.


Nontraumatic avascular necrosis (AVN) of the hip is commonly caused by exogenous glucocorticoid administration, whereas it has rarely been associated with endogenous hypercortisolism. We report a 30-yr-old woman with Cushing's disease whose presenting manifestation was early AVN of the hip. Although plain x-ray was negative, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the hip showed stage 2 AVN. Her orthopedic disease was considered an emergency, and thus, it was treated with core decompression before the diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome (CS) was pursued further. The femur recovered fully, as demonstrated by her improved clinical picture and a subsequent MRI. AVN carries a poor prognosis, if not treated early. The diagnostic procedure of choice is MRI, because plain radiographs are falsely negative in early stages. This case illustrates that AVN can be the presenting manifestation of CS; to prevent irreversible effects on the femoral head, core decompression should not be delayed for the purpose of evaluation and treatment of CS.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cushing Syndrome / complications
  • Cushing Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Decompression, Surgical
  • Emergency Treatment
  • Female
  • Femur Head Necrosis / diagnosis*
  • Femur Head Necrosis / etiology
  • Femur Head Necrosis / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging